(WYTV) – For the first time in nine years, American astronauts will be going to space in an American rocket from American soil.
NASA and the private company its using called SpaceX have picked May 27 for resuming astronaut launches from the United States after nine years of depending on the Russians to get us up to the international space station.
The last shuttle launch was in 2011 and the Russian Soyuz spacecraft, blasting off from Kazakhstan, was the only way to return to space.
SpaceX will use a Falcon Nine rocket to carry astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken to the space station.
They’ll blast off from the same Kennedy Space Center launch pad both the space shuttles and the Apollo moonshots used.
Astronaut Doug Hurley was the pilot on the last shuttle mission in 2011 and he’ll be the spacecraft commander for SpaceX’s Dragon crew capsule.
Launch day will be a Wednesday, with a liftoff time of 4:30 p.m.
It is unknown if NASA will try to keep the crowds away due to the coronavirus restrictions.
Only three countries have launched people into orbit since 1961: Russia, the U.S. and China, in that order.
SpaceX would be the first private company to do this.
Three people are on board the space station now, and Hurley and Behnken will spend weeks and maybe months there. NASA isn’t sure yet. Then, they’ll return to Earth on a SpaceX return capsule called Dragon.